Seminary Viewpoints

Thoughts on Colin Kaepernick’s Nike Ad

Sam Horn | September 8, 2018
Viewpoint Blog

Adding fuel to the fire

Colin Kaepernick’s story has made major waves in social media recently. Nike’s decision to feature him in a recent advertisement has added fuel to the fire – literally – with outraged fans burning their Nike shoes.

“Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything.” This caption on the controversial Nike ad is worth thinking about.

Kaepernick tweeted this photo from the ad with the caption, “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything.” For Kaepernick, the “something” he passionately believes has to do with black equality, but Nike’s ad is vague enough so each viewer can insert his or her own cause.

Not just anything is worth sacrificing everything

As inspiring as Kaepernick’s slogan appears to be, it actually provokes a question worth considering. Is it worthy to believe in something to the point of being willing to sacrifice everything? Catchy and compelling? Yes. But is it good advice that will stand the test of sober thought? I would think even a few moments of careful thought would immediately remind us there are some beliefs that are not worth sacrificing everything for, no matter how passionately we might feel about them at the moment.

For example, some people are deeply committed to beliefs that are clearly wrong, such as a flat earth at the cost of a promising academic career or the loss of credibility in other areas of life. Or what about the person who passionately believes they can making a positive contribution to society through their chosen profession, and their passion leads them to sacrifice their marriage, ruin their family, and irreparably damage those closest to them in the process. From a biblical perspective it is immediately evident that these passions are misplaced and these sacrifices are not praiseworthy. Believing strongly in something to the point of sacrificing everything is only praiseworthy when the cause itself is appropriate and praiseworthy – and not all causes are.

Believing in life, liberty, and freedom are causes worth dying for – and many have. Because of the courage and sacrifice of those who have honorably served in our armed forces and with our police and first responder units, I have the freedom to express this opinion and you have the freedom to agree or disagree. This freedom is important enough that those who value it should refuse to remain silent when a popular athlete or entertainer publicly disrespects those who protect and paid dearly, even giving their own lives to procure and protect those freedoms. So I get why some people are burning their shoes about this ad.

Following Christ is worth every sacrifice

There is another cause worth the sacrifice of everything a person has – following Christ. In fact, following Christ will demand the sacrifice of all things up to and including your own life! Jesus was very clear about this – you cannot follow Him without denying yourself and carrying His cross (Matthew 16:24). Following Christ will mean suffering with Him (Romans 8:17) and for Him (Matthew 10:22). You will be hated by many for His name’s sake (Matthew 24:9), and in the case of some, the advancement of Christ’s name will mean a violent death at the hands of the enemies of Christ and His gospel. Listen to Paul’s own statement about this – “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” (Romans 8:36)

We are not called to sacrifice everything for our own earthly causes, however passionately we might feel about them at the moment. The call to lay down our lives goes far beyond Nike’s catchy slogan. We are to count the cost of following Jesus and weigh it against the cost of denying His name. We are to measure the loss of all earthly possessions, including our life on this earth, against the immeasurable weight of glory that God has promised in the next.

So, while the Nike ad may not motivate you to burn your sneakers, it should motivate you to consider a cause that is indeed worth sacrificing everything for – the name of Christ. And though it may result in disregard or even disrespect from others, it is the highest respect you can extend to Christ and to your neighbor.